On Saturday, Nov. 18, the eighth annual Richmond Christmas Fund toy drive took place. Organized by Richmond RCMP, the event brought in hundreds of people, over 1 1/2 tons of toys and raised over $26,000. It also landed a couple of local celebrities in the dunk tank.
“We have a major donor, Summit Customs Brokers, who donated $10,000 if the officer-in-charge of the Richmond detachment would agree to be dunked,” said Ed Gavsie, president and CEO of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives.
Last year, the lucky dunkee was then-chief Supt. Will Ng. This year it was the new guy, Chief Supt. Dave Chauhan.
“He was dunked by the mayor — on the mayor’s first throw. Then Henry Yao, Richmond South-Centre MLA, volunteered to be dunked as well.”
The Richmond Christmas Fund was founded 90 years ago by Ethel Tibbits, editor of the now-defunct Richmond Review. It’s now a program of Richmond Cares, Richmond Gives. A registered charity now in its 50th year, RCRG serves as a hub for volunteering and giving, and operates the Child Care Resource & Referral Centre and a variety of seniors’ community support services. The Richmond Christmas Fund depends on the support of community partners like the Empty Stocking Fund.
Along with distributing over 12,000 toys, the Richmond Christmas Fund gives every qualifying family a Save-On-Foods gift card per member.
“We know from unsolicited testimonials that many people would not be able to have a festive meal or toys for their children without this help,” Gavsie said. “What we see in Richmond are working poor. All the parents’ money is going to rent and food and clothes. There’s not a lot of disposable income to go around.”
This year’s toy drive generated record results, Gavsie says.
“There’s a pallet of toys that still has to be weighed, but even without it we’re where we were last year in terms of weight.”
A 505-JUNK truck with a scale was on-site to weigh the toys.
“We’ve never been able to count them because they come in too fast.”
Once the toys are collected, Gavsie, his colleagues and volunteers get to work packing and distributing.
“We did a distribution run on the same day as the toy drive,” he said. “And for the next three Saturdays, we’ll be distributing them to those who register. Then we have some special distributions where certain service providers come into the toy room and choose toys and get their cards, and people with counsellors or attendants who can’t be part of a big crowd.”
Nearly a decade in, the toy drive has taken on a life of its own, he says.
“We have a lot of new partners, like Coca-Cola with their caravan, a photo area with Santa and a caricaturist. I know that in talking to the mini-doughnut truck operator that we gave out more bags of mini-doughnuts this year than last. Every year it gets a little bigger.”
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